‘Car 54, Where Are You?’–If You’re Past a Certain Age You’re Probably Singing It Now; The Man Who Wrote the Music to That Memorable TV Theme Has Died

Feb 18, 2011  •  Post A Comment

The composer of the memorable theme song for the early ‘60s TV show "Car 54, Where Are You?," has died, The New York Times reported.

John Strauss was 90 and the cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease, the story says, citing his son, Larry.

While Strauss won an Emmy for sound editing in 1978 for his work on the telefilm "The Amazing Howard Hughes" and a Grammy in 1984 for producing the soundtrack album for "Amadeus," he was best known for the "Car 54" theme song. Strauss wrote the music to the theme, with the lyrics written by the show’s creator, Nat Hiken.

The TV show aired on NBC from 1961 to 1963 and starred Fred Gwynne and Joe E. Ross driving around New York in their squad car unaware of the havoc going on around them. Strauss’ theme song is a "jaunty march-time tune" with its opening bars recalling the opening of the second movement of Mozart’s G major piano trio, and finishes with the title question sung in a melancholy treble, the story notes.

The story notes that Strauss studied composition with Paul Hindemith at Yale and his one-woman opera, "The Accused," was broadcast in 1961 on CBS’s "Camera Three."

To hear and watch the opening credits to “Car 54, Where Are You?’ click here.

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